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Preview: Leinster v Ospreys

02nd May 2013 12:27

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BOD Leinster v Ospreys PRO 12 final 2012

Benched: Brian O'Driscoll

Leinster have made several changes to the line-up which started last weekend's Challenge Cup semi-final win to face the Ospreys.

Isaac Boss will partner Jonathan Sexton - now just 28 points shy of the 1,000 point career mark for the province.

Andrew Conway comes into the outside backs meaning that Fergus McFadden will partner Ian Madigan at centre. Brian O'Driscoll is given a 'breather' being named on the bench after his exertions in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Jamie Heaslip, Kevin McLaughlin and Mike Ross are rested after picking up knocks last weekend. Gordon D'Arcy has made good progress after his calf strain and should come back into calculations for next weekend's semi-final.

In all there are 13 home-grown players in the starting side which will be led once more by Leo Cullen. Fresh from his British and Irish Lions selection, Sean O'Brien has recovered from injury and the Tullow man starts at number eight in a back-row which includes Shane Jennings and Rhys Ruddock.

Jack McGrath will make his 35th senior appearance and he is joined in the front row by Ireland hooker Sean Cronin and Jamie Hagan.

Meanwhile, Alun Wyn Jones captains the Ospreys for their trip to Dublin after being selected for the British and Irish Lions earlier this week.

"We know that we're up against it if we are going to reach the play-offs but we definitely won't be throwing the towel in," said Ospreys boss Steve Tandy.

"This team isn't about that, it's about playing for the cause and giving everything. The boys were hurting badly in the dressing room in Glasgow and are desperate to not go out with a whimper. We still have a chance of progressing so Friday night will be about giving it everything. If we can put in the kind of performance that's needed then we'll have to wait and see what happens elsewhere.

"The PRO12 is an extremely tough competition, we're up against back to back European champions and this year's Amlin finalists on Friday night and there's a team like Munster who made the last four of the Heineken this season who are out of the play-off equation already. Just to get into the play-offs is extremely difficult. We gave ourselves an awful lot to do after losing the first three, particularly with home defeats to Glasgow and Ulster, but now we just have to give it everything on Friday.

"There'd be nothing worse than giving up the fight and then getting back into the changing room after the game on Friday to discover Treviso had done their part in Llanelli, which is why as long as the maths mean we still have a chance we'll be going for it. Treviso are a quality team, they are extremely competitive with a physical pack that is a match for anyone. It's going to be an interesting evening."

Form: Leinster must win to ensure home advantage in the playoffs. Leinster's only defeat in their last 14 contests in all competitions was 18-22 at home to Ulster in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 30th March. The Leinstermen have lost just once to a Welsh region in any competition this season: 10-19 at the Ospreys in round 8 of the PRO12. Ospreys also must win to give themselves any chance of taking the 4th Play-Off spot away from the Scarlets. Ospreys five match unbeaten run in the PRO12 ended in the last round with their 17-35 reversal in Glasgow. Leinster have won just one of their last seven contests with Ospreys: 15-10 at the RDS in January 2011.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Sean O'Brien, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 John Cooney, 22 Andrew Goodman, 23 Brian O'Driscoll.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Ben John, 11 Ross Jones, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Justin Tipuric, 5 James King, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Dmitri Arhip, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Cai Griffiths, 19 Ian Evans, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Matthew Morgan, 22 Tom Isaacs, 23 Jonathan Spratt.

Date: Friday, May 3
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Venue: RDS, Dublin
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU
Assistant referees: Mark Patton, Stuart Gaffikin (both IRFU)
TMO: Alan Rogan (IRFU)

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